Accio HP6!!!

Sat 7/18/2009

Well, I finally went to Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince last night, and as I predicted, seeing that movie was like the most awesome bummer ever. It is a pretty dark chapter in the HP saga, and even though I knew everything that was going to happen, I still cried through the entire second half of the movie.

I made my peace long ago with the fact that the filmmakers have to cut out about half of the books out to make a watchable movie. Initially this really bothered me, but now I'm sort of glad about all of the editing that goes on. The movies are fun and exciting, and cool to look at, but they can't possible capture all of the detail and subtlety and heart of the books. Asking if the Harry Potter movies are better than the books would be like asking some one to look at a candle and then to look DIRECTLY INTO THE SUN, and asking them which was brighter. The best thing these movies will accomplish is to get more people to read the books!

As for this particular movie, I was relieved that the filmmakers FINALLY got Dumbledore right again. After Richard Harris's death in 2002, the Dumbledore movie character took a horrible turn for the worse. I'm reluctant to pin all of the blame on Michael Gambon, because I know that film is a highly collaborative medium. Should Gambon be blamed (in the fourth movie) for RUNNING into a scene, WILDLY waving his arms around, YELLING at people, or rudely SNAPPING at Hogwarts students in another scene? Or should we blame the person who wrote the scenes which place the character in those situations? Or the director who approved scenes which were acted out thusly? Or the editor who saw the scenes and decided to include them in the movie?

It's just hard to believe that SOMEONE on the set, or one of the other actors who had read all of the books, wouldn't lean in and say, "UM... Albus Dumbledore only raises his voice ONCE in over 4,000 pages of text, and that is when a ministry official is shaking a Hogwarts student, which is the group of people he happens to care about and love more than anyone else in the world. Also, he's like a hundred years old, so he doesn't really RUN anywhere..." It would be awesome if they could go back and reshoot some scenes from HP4 and HP5 now that they understand the character... Harry Potter: Special Edition? Come on!

Anyway, pretty much the only thing that bugged me about THIS movie, besides the obligatory missing scenes from the book, was the score. Most of the time I never even NOTICE the music in movies, but this time I did, which I'm taking as a bad sign. HP6 is easily the most emotionally complex installment in this series and there were a lot of moments that required heavy scoring to heighten the experience. I kept thinking, "This should be really suspenseful right now, where are the violins???" I looked it up and the music was composed by the same guy who did the music for HP5, which I had no problems with, so who knows why it seemed different to me this time. As far as I'm concerned, after the third movie, the music credits could just read "Music by Not John Williams."

Well, any way you slice it, I had an awesome time and it was a nice reward after a crazy week of workshop teaching. All non-workshop activities were pretty much on hold for me this week, so I have a lot of comics to draw and trash to take out and laundry to wash, and dishes to do, emails to write, etc. etc. I've got the weekend off to catch up on everything and then the next workshop starts up on Monday. I hope everyone has a wizardly weekend!

9 comments on this entry

I think we actually floated home on a river of our own Harry Potter tears. Langlok to the nay-sayers!

Jen Jul18

"Asking if the Harry Potter movies are better than the books would be like asking some one to look at a candle and then to look DIRECTLY INTO THE SUN, and asking them which was brighter."

This is officially my new stance on the book vs. movie debate.

Laura Jul18

I think I am in a rare camp of Potter fans that actually loves Gambon’s take on Dumbledore. I know, I know, (I can feel everyone’s wrath) it is radically different from the personality described in the books, but to me his performance works wonders for a cinematic version. He has energy, dynamics, ... subtlety, and experience. On Pottercast and other HP fan sites people LOVE to rip into him, (particularly because he’s never read the books), which to many is pure sacrilege, but having spent some time acting myself, I sort of know where he’s coming from, in that everything he needs should be in the script. I really like Gambon’s range, and although it is a bit of a departure from the books, I enjoy what he brings to the movies. And I have no problem separating the films from the books, sun and candle I agree. I certainly feel that I’m a minority in my pro-Gambon opinion though when I peek around the web, although I’ve heard that Rowling really loves him, which seems to perplex a lot of fans.
In any case it looks like you had a great time, and I’m glad you enjoyed it. I sure did. I think they accomplished some very difficult things with that movie and still made it enjoyable.

Cam Jul19

first thing i'd like to say is:
NEEEERRRD !!!!
; )
then: you must probably hear this each day more and more, but sorry dude, you look more like a skinny hagrid... harry didn't even shave once yet !

pierre Maurel Jul19

I could not agree more about Dumbledore. Richard Harris was perfect, Gambon was an awful replacement. I think his performance was completely lifeless and utterly devoid of any charm at all.
I haven't seen the new film yet, but I'm doubtful this new installment will change my mind.

skinny Hagrid, ha ha... good one Pierre !

Max Jul22

Good and honest review of the movie - BUT the nerd code of conduct requires I mention how horribly they messed up the Ginny/Harry romance. The way JK wrote their first kiss scene so natural and believable - while the movie kiss was so overwrought and wrong... ugghh. I wish someone had told me to close MY eyes so I wouldn't have had to watch that travesty.

AFF Jul24

I totally agree Alexis! They even set up the kiss perfectly (with allusions to Ginny and Dean having arguments) but as soon as HP passed through that portrait hole without bumping anyone I knew they had loused it up!

Alec Jul25

I'm also much more in tune with Gambon's Dumbledore than Harris'. Harris was just too old. The character is old, yes, but there is a twinkle, a sprightliness to him that I think Gambon had perfectly. Bouncing, running, I don't think these things out of place for Dumbledore; in fact, I was quite glad to see them.

Part of what makes Dumbledore so appealing is his understanding of youth, and it seems unlikely to me that he would himself appear anything other than youthful, despite his age. There are few extremely old actors who can retain such vigor (Donald Sutherland is one such actor), and Gambon has... he's only two years younger in HP6 than Harris was in HP1, yet the difference is as wide as can be.

When I picture old Alec Longstreth, I see the same sort of thing - peppy, extremely enthusiastic, theatrical in movement and emotion... can you imagine yourself extremely stoic, quiet, and frail in appearance?

As for the movie, I love most everything up until the cave scene... that and the climactic battle and Snape's declaration of identity all felt entirely wrong from how I thought they should've been handled.

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